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Japanese swimmer qualifies for Tokyo Olympics after battling leukemia

Rikako Ikee
Posted at 1:17 PM, Apr 20, 2021

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics just two years after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

The 20-year-old swam a qualifying time of 57.77 seconds in winning the 100-meter butterfly at Japan's national championships. After the race, Ikee was overcome with tears and could barely speak as she cried.

She told The Associated Press that she was not expecting to win the 100-meter race and she was feeling far less confidence than during the Olympic qualifiers five years ago.

She won six gold medals in 2018 at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, which included the 50 and 100-meter freestyle, and the 50 and 100-meter butterfly. She also won gold in two relays and added two silvers.

She resumed training about a year ago but had said her goal was only to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The swimmer would have been among the favorites in several Olympic races if she had not fallen ill.